Social Research (Health) MSc

The course trains you in both the theoretical and the practical aspects of carrying out research in ways which are methodologically and ethically sound and will develop both your academic and practical skills.


The course provides high quality methodological training to master’s students and to those undertaking, or seeking to undertake, PhD research or work-based research as part of their professional role or career development. It is particularly suitable for people working in health and social care and is taught by a team of social scientists with extensive experience in teaching health professionals.

The course enables you to acquire a firm academic foundation in research methodology in the field of health as well as specific skills to support the transition into research practice such as the ability to analyse qualitative data (e.g. interview transcripts) and statistical datasets and the ability to disseminate research findings to potential audiences.

The programme covers qualitative and quantitative methods, an overview of the research process as a whole and the philosophical considerations underpinning research design and practice. It teaches you a wide range of concepts and enables you to engage with interdisciplinary and mixed methods research.

The course equips you with an in-depth appreciation of and application of ethical principles in research, a consideration of ways of embedding equality, diversity and inclusion into research and a sound understanding of various techniques of quality assurance in research.

The course forms part of the training provision of the Midlands Graduate School Economic and Social Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership.

Key features

  • Taught by a diverse and experienced academic team who are recognised experts.
  • Explores traditional and long-standing research methods as well as innovative approaches to social research.
  • Develops a range of technical and specialist skills as well as a philosophical understanding of key scholarly debates.
  • Applies methodological constructs directly to your work-based interests and assignments enable students to focus on their own topics of interest.
  • Facilitates effective undertaking of work-based research and provides the methodological grounding required for PhD study.
  • Provides required methodological training for Economic and Social Research Council PhD scholarship holders, and for NIHR INSIGHT studentship holders in the East Midlands.

If you would like further information or an informal discussion about the MSc Social Research (Health), please contact:

Programme Leader

Sally Ruane
T: 0116 207 8732

More courses like this:

Masters by Research

DMU has been shortlisted for the Postgraduate Award in the 2024 Whatuni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs), as voted for by students.

  • UK
  • EU/International

Start date: October 2024

Course code: B90083

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time

Fees: 2024/25 full-time tuition fees for UK students: £7,800

Attendance: You can expect to study on campus one day a week, with occasional classes on a second day

Location of study: De Montfort University Leicester UK

Start date: October 2024

Course code: B90083

Duration: One year full-time

Fees: 2024/25 full-time tuition fees for international students: £16,300

Attendance: You can expect to study on campus one day a week, with occasional classes on a second day

Location of study: De Montfort University Leicester UK

Entry criteria

  • A 2:1 honours degree or above in a relevant subject
  • Or, a good 2:2 honours degree, plus relevant professional experience
  • Or, a portfolio of professional qualifications and/or academic qualifications of equivalent standing to an honours degree
  • Or, an appropriate postgraduate diploma at a good standard


English language requirements:

If English is not your first language an IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent when you start the course is essential. English language tuition, delivered by our British Council accredited Centre for English Language Learning (CELL), is available both before and during the course.

Please visit for more information.


Structure and assessment


Course modules

Teaching and assessment

Academic expertise


Course modules

This course offers rigorous multi-disciplinary training in traditional and innovative research methods and enables you to develop an advanced critical appreciation of key methodological debates and acquire practical skills of undertaking research. Students are assessed through coursework and there are no exams.

Research Designs, Practice and Ethics - The module provides an overview of the main approaches in health research and research in the social sciences more broadly, introducing students to key concepts and enabling students to understand the principles of research design and strategy and quality assurance. The module emphasises the centrality of ethics, providing a critical introduction to the role of ethics in research and to the ESRC Framework for Research Ethics

Foundations in Qualitative Research – The module provides an overview of what is involved in planning, carrying out, writing up and evaluating qualitative research. Through a review of traditional and novel research methods (interviews, focus groups, observation, visual methods, ethnography, netnography, documentary analysis, etc.), the module enables students to make informed decisions about methods of qualitative data collection and analysis, including through the use of relevant software. Students learn how to design a data collection tool and how to conduct qualitative data analysis.

Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods – This module centres on concepts, application and interpretation of quantitative research methods used in health and the social sciences. Students are taught principles underpinning data collection and the creation of a quantitative dataset as well as tools of statistical analysis and interpretation.

Health and Wellbeing Through the Life Course - The module enables students to be well-informed of the latest thinking and ideas in the field of health, including subject knowledge, key concepts, theoretical traditions and research methods. It enables students to investigate social justice aspects of health, including health inequalities.

Understanding Research Strategies and Approaches in the Social Sciences – This module aims to develop students’ awareness and understanding of the philosophical and theoretical assumptions, including ontological and epistemological commitments, underpinning different approaches to health and social research. It enables students to consider the equality, diversity and inclusion implications of research approach and research design

MSc Social Research Dissertation – This module requires students to undertake a health and wellbeing related research project which typically entails the collection and analysis of data. Students can typically choose their own topic area. In addition to the dissertation of 15,000 words, students create stakeholder engagement plans and ways of disseminating their research findings.

Note: All modules are indicative and based on the current academic session. Course information is correct at the time of publication and is subject to review. Exact modules may, therefore, vary for your intake in order to keep content current. If there are changes to your course we will, where reasonable, take steps to inform you as appropriate.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching is undertaken through lectures, seminars and workshops, accompanied by more flexible online learning in two modules. Students are expected to undertake self-directed study in all modules but especially in the Dissertation where students are guided through one-to-one supervision.

Assessment in taught modules is undertaken through traditional academic coursework such as essays and reports and through practical assessments such as creating a research proposal or interview topic guide; and students are given opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge in written and spoken form. There are no formal exams.

For the MSc Social Research (Health) (180 credits) you will complete a dissertation of 15,000 words and associated assignments. The Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) may be awarded on completion of 120 credits from taught modules, or a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) on completion of 60 credits.


Academic expertise

The course is taught by staff from a range of disciplines who have a strong track record in research publication and leadership.

Particular areas of research expertise include:

  • Communication in healthcare
  • Arts and humanities in health and healthcare
  • Health policy and health service reform, including Integrated Care Systems
  • Cross sector collaboration
  • Health inequalities and ethnicity
  • Parental mental ill-health
  • Mental health literacy and resilience
  • Creative methodologies in health research
  • Reproductive decision-making
  • New family forms
  • Gay and lesbian parenthood
  • Cognitive processes and use of language

Our staff group includes:

Dr Kaitlyn Zavaleta and Dr Zaqia Rahman - Methodological expertise in quantitative methods and statistics

Professor Cathy Herbrand – Expertise in qualitative methodology

Professor Brian Brown and Dr Scott Yates - Expertise in research paradigms, philosophy and designs.  

Dr Sally Ruane - Subject specific research expertise and expertise in qualitative methods. 

Facilities and features

Health and Life Sciences facilities

Substantial investment in Health and Life Sciences has developed our teaching and learning facilities to help you develop your practical experience and theoretical knowledge beyond the classroom.

The 19th century Hawthorn Building has facilities designed to replicate current practice in health and life sciences, including contemporary analytical chemistry and formulation laboratories, audiology booths and nursing and midwifery clinical skills suites.

Purpose-built clinical skills areas allow you to apply theory to practice in a safe environment. You will receive guidance and support from staff, to ensure that your practical ability in the clinical skills suites is accurate.

Library services

On campus, the main Kimberlin Library offers a space where you can work, study and access a vast range of print materials, with computer stations, laptops, plasma screens and assistive technology also available. 

As well as providing a physical space in which to work, we offer online tools to support your studies, and our extensive online collection of resources accessible from our Library website, e-books, specialised databases and electronic journals and films which can be remotely accessed from anywhere you choose. 

We will support you to confidently use a huge range of learning technologies, including Learning Zone, Collaborate Ultra, DMU Replay, MS Teams, Turnitin and more. Alongside this, you can access LinkedIn Learning and learn how to use Microsoft 365, and study support software such as mind mapping and note-taking through our new Digital Student Skills Hub. 

The library staff offer additional support to students, including help with academic writing, research strategies, literature searching, reference management and assistive technology. There is also a ‘Just Ask’ service for help and advice, live LibChat, online workshops, tutorials and drop-ins available from our Learning Services, and weekly library live chat sessions that give you the chance to ask the library teams for help.

Learning zones

Our Learning Zones and The Greenhouse also provide space for group or individual work and study.

There are 1,600 study places across all library locations, more than 700 computer stations, laptops to borrow, free wi-fi and desktop power outlets.

You can also book rooms with plasma screens, laptops and DVD facilities for group work and presentations, secure an individual study room with adjustable lighting or make use of our assistive technology.

Opportunities and careers

Find the people who will open doors for you

DMU's award-winning careers service provides guaranteed work experience opportunities DMU Careers Team


As part of the university's commitment to enhancing the personal and career development of our graduates. We offer an Alumni scholarship programme. For more information visit Health and Life Sciences Alumni Scholarships.


Graduate careers

The course is relevant to graduates who wish to undertake research or to support research activity in their workplaces. It provides a firm foundation for students wishing to undertake PhD study and move into professional roles requiring research experience and skills. More generally, the course provides a strong Master’s basis to support ambition for promotion at work.

Take your next steps